Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Plain Janes

Castellucci, Cecil. 2007. THE PLAIN JANES. Ill. By Jim Rugg. New York: DC Comics. ISBN 978140121158 [Suggested Grade Levels 6-12]

Cecil Castellucci presents a realistic coming of age story in her first graphic novel for young adults. Jane is forced to move from Metro City after a terrorist attack sends her family searching for a safe haven in the suburbs. While the “cool” girls at her new high Jane ignore her, she finds a group of misfits, all named Jane. Together they form a secret club – P.L.A.I.N. – People Loving Art in Neighborhoods. They stage “art attacks,” capturing the admiration of the teens in the community, while leaving bewildered authorities frustrated and not amused. All the while, Jane pens letters to an unidentified young man, now comatose in the hospital, whose life she saved during the Metro City attack. His abandoned sketchbook serves as Jane’s guide along her journey of self discovery. Text is sparse, but Jim Rugg’s illustrations rendered in a clean, spare black and white format compliment the themes of living with fear in a post 9/11 world and a teen’s quest to discover herself and her place in society. Graphic novel fans as well as teens searching for a page turner dealing with the complexities of teen life will find this a satisfying entry.

This book provides an opportunity to explore fears about how our world has changed since 9/11 and how we must make our own adjustments to the threat of terrorism. Also, the basic themes of belonging and being true to one’s self are presented in this graphic novel.

Related graphic novel:
Mike Carey. RE-GIFTERS. ISBN 9781401203719

By Jane H. Claes

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